Gulf of Mexico’s ‘dead zone’ larger than average this year

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This year’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” – an area where there’s too little oxygen to support marine life – is larger than average, according to researchers. Scientists supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determined that the area off Louisiana and Texas’ coasts covers about 6,334 square miles (16,405 square kilometers), the agency said in a news release Tuesday.

Over the past five years, the average size of the low-oxygen, or hypoxic, zone has been 5,380 square miles (13,934 square kilometers). That’s 2.8 times larger than the goal set by a federal task force to reduce the five-year average to 1,900 square miles (4,921 square kilometers) or smaller by 2035.

Because year-to-year measurements can vary widely – this year’s zone is about three times the size of 2020’s – NOAA says a multiyear average “captures the true dynamic nature of the zone.”

This summer’s measurement was larger…

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